How do they create the side-impact-crash "from inside the car" shots?

How do they create the side-impact-crash "from inside the car" shots? - Low angle of old fashioned photo camera with strap and lens placed on table in dim light in studio inside

I've wondered about this for years. It's become quite popular to film car crashes from inside the vehicle that suffers the worst damage. These scenes are usually shot from inside the "target" vehicle, looking out a side window as the oncoming "t-bone" impact happens. It seems especially popular in espionage/suspense/thriller types of films/shows.

Here is an example from the movie Adaptation (not at all one of the best FX examples as it's quite old, but it's the only one I could precisely recall off the top of my head)

Here is another (pretty poorly done, IMO) example that cuts just before any crash is actually seen, but if they had gone all the way past the point of impact, this is the kind of scene I'm talking about:

How exactly do they do this? I'm assuming it's a combination of practical and CGI, since it's usually done in such a way as to definitely be able to clearly see the actor's face so as to lend realism to the shot, yet obviously would be way too dangerous to the actor to actually execute. But some of these done more recently look so shockingly real... how do they pull it off?

Best Answer

Well I never really got a good answer to this question, but I guess the best answer for how they do these "higher quality" FX shots, is that it's a TON of work! Found this clip which isn't the exact sort of crash I was thinking of, but it certainly demonstrates the level of effort that can be required to pull off a convincing effect with believable close-ups of the interior of the car as things are happening.

The video shows a car crash sequence from Dark Phoenix (2019) where a car is in a head-on collision (It's being towed to a diverting track to ensure it hits the oncoming vehicle just right) and the viewer then gets to see from inside the car, the aftermath of the crash as the car flips over and over, glass is strewn everywhere, and the occupants are battered about. This is done by putting a mangled car on a giant "rotisserie" against a green-screen, and spinning it with the actors inside as high-speed cameras film from several angles. The end result is all composited and edited together to create the final sequence.

Mighty impressive work!

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How do they create the side-impact-crash "from inside the car" shots? - Crop woman molding clay on board
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What happens in a side impact collision?

A side impact car accident occurs when one vehicle hits another vehicle on its side. This type of collision can occur head-on or at an angle. Due to the devastating vehicle damage that side impact collisions can cause, many of these accidents result in severe injury or even death.

What helps absorb the impact of a crash?

Crumple zones add time to the crash by absorbing energy. Crumple zones allow the front of the vehicle to crush like an accordion, absorbing some of the impact of the collision and giving some off in the form of heat and sound.

What is a lateral impact collision?

Lateral impacts occur when a vehicle is struck from the side, for example a vehicle failing to stop at a give way and striking a vehicle on the major road. The vehicle is pushed sideways by the collision and the side of the vehicle or door may be pushed against the side of the occupant.

What is internal collision?

Although it may not be visible, the body may suffer damage in a car crash. This is the third collision known as the internal collision. The internal organs still move during a collision, even after the body comes to a complete stop. The internal organs may slam into other organs or the skeletal system.


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Images: Lucas Pezeta, Anna Shvets, Anna Shvets, Anete Lusina